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Friday, May 19, 2017

Elementary Students Get Innovative in the Classroom

Visitors at Elizabeth Smith Elementary School this week had to watch out for photographers, flying Frisbee discs and even students taking part in military formations. The different activities were all part of the school's first ever Innovation Week.

Innovation Week is an opportunity for students to step outside of their everyday curriculum and explore subjects of interest in a project-based learning environment. Project-based learning is a way of instruction in which students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge over a longer time period rather than just one class session.

Each student had the opportunity to select one of 15 areas to work with for the entire five days. Areas ranged from baseball and softball to movie making and Frisbee golf. Teachers and parent volunteers with experience in these areas were on campus all week to help the students through the process of learning their exploratory area.

A student in the gardening class works on her fairy garden
project for Innovation Week at Elizabeth Smith Elementary.
Stormi Berry, Smith Elementary physical education aide and instructor for the Innovation Week’s hair design classes, feels that while the students are learning a new skill, seeing them intermingle with students from other grades is the real story of the event.

"Students from all grades participate in each area. They are all together, kindergarten through fourth grade, and it has been really fun seeing the older kids become big brother or big sisters to the younger ones," Berry said. "The older kids are excited to be a mentor to the young ones, and the younger students just love hanging out with the older kids."

For Cody Cross, taking part in the photography club and learning from some really great teachers has made this the best week ever.

"I love photography group because we take so many pictures, our teachers are amazingly nice and this is just the best time I have ever had at school."

Principal Lea Boiles hopes her students leave Innovation Week with an even further love of learning.

"My hope for Innovation Week is for students to engage in creative critical thinking activities that include building relationships, collaboration and community service," she said. "All of this is done in an atmosphere that promotes a love for learning and a desire to make a positive impact on our little part of the world, leaving it a better place than when we started."